Note that there is a difference between the Daily and "Bound" Congressional Record. See the box below on the left.
For an interesting in-depth look at the Record, its history, and how it is currently put together (every day before 9 AM!) by the folks at GPO, check out this webcast by GPO staffer Ashley Dahlen: Part One • Part Two
The Government Publishing Office's Federal Digital System (FDSys) is the major online source for relatively recent Congressional Record archives.
Congress.gov offers full-text searching of the Record. You may view the entire issue for any day in PDF or text format, or just zoom in on the section you need.
In addition, in legislation summaries and member information on Congress.gov, there are also links to appropriate places in the Record. Just a click will bring you text or PDF of the Record dealing with the legislation or in which the member had something to say.
Note that the Congressional Record as we know it today did not begin publication until 1873.
"At the end of each session of Congress, all of the daily CR editions are collected, re-paginated, and re-indexed into a permanent, bound edition. This permanent edition, referred to as the Congressional Record (Bound Edition), is made up of one volume per session of Congress, with each volume published in multiple parts, each part containing approximately 10 to 20 days of Congressional proceedings.
The primary ways in which the bound edition differs from the daily edition are continuous pagination; somewhat edited, revised, and rearranged text; and the dropping of the prefixes H, S, and E before page numbers."
A Yale librarian has provided a detailed webinar on the Record that you can view here. Her presentation includes descriptions of the historical Record antecedents as well as tips on finding the Record online and using it in unexpected ways to do historical research.
Beginning in 2007 the Library ceased receiving the daily Congressional Record issues in tangible form, and we ceased receiving microfiche "bound" volumes in 2016, and the latest year for which we have microfiche is 2011 (incomplete). The Law Library still receives the Record in microfiche, and there are online sources for different years. See the Internet Sources box on the left.
Congressional Record and related publications (it has changed names over the years) are available as follows:
Note that the Annals, Register of Debates, and Globe do not provide verbatim transcripts of Congressional action, but rather are summaries, and, in the case of the Annals are not contemporaneous accounts. The Congressional Record as we know it today did not begin publication until 1873.
For links to electronic versions of the Annals, Register, and Globe, see this LibGuide box.
Two electronic publications from the Law Librarians' Society of Washington, DC. can be helpful in researching Congressional debates:
Journals. These records of the proceedings of the House and Senate are the only publications expressly required of them by the Constitution. They are published at the end of each Congressional Session and give daily summaries of motions, action taken, and roll call votes. They are received in the Library in microfiche and classified "XJ," so they are filed immediately following the Congressional Record. Each volume includes a summary legislative history of all bills introduced in the Session, and an index of subjects and names.
Since the Journals are published at the end of a Session, there may be a long gap between the last Journal received and the current Congressional Session. The Library has Journals from 1979 to the present, in microfiche.
Individual Committee Calendars. Each Committee publishes several Calendars during each Session which give the status of Bills that have been referred to them.
Memorial Addresses. Older tributes are classed Y 7.1: in the Library, newer ones as either House (Y 1.1/7: ) or Senate (Y 1.1/3: ) documents. These volumes contain the addresses delivered in Congress to eulogize members who died while in office. When online versions are available, there are links in the Online Catalog.
Congressional Budget Office Publications. These analytical publications on many diverse topics are classified Y 10.
When online versions of these publications are available, there are links in the Online Catalog. Many reports are available on the Office's website: